10 September 2008

This is what comes of allowing poets to write plays

Doug lent me his copy of Under Milk Wood, a play he talks about the way that I talk about Betrayal (except that he has actually directed both of them and knows them better than I ever will). I picked it up to read yesterday in order to clear my "library card" with him (which is written on the front of his script for Dinner with Friends so I remain very aware of it).*

So there I am, sitting in the Starbucks before rehearsal, and I open this thing. As I do so, Laurie swung by on her way to her rehearsal, saw it in my hands and asked "Who's doing that?!" "Nobody. I'm just reading it." "Oh." And off she went.

I read the little essay at the beginning and I read the little guide to Dylan Thomas's Anglo-Welsh pronounciation at the back. And then I needed to head to the theater, so I left the Starbucks and began to read the text as I walked.

Page 1.

To begin at the beginning:
It is Spring, moonless, night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.
OMG. I coundn't just read it. No way. I had to hear the words and so, in my walking rhythm, I started to read it a bit aloud.

Page 2.
Listen. It is night in the chill, squat chapel, hymning in bonnet and brooch and bombazine black, butterfly choker and bootlace bow, coughing like nanny-goats, sucking mintoes, fortywinking hallelujah; night in the four-ale, quiet as a domino; in Ocky Milkman's lofts like a mouse with gloves; in Dai Bread's bakery flying like black flour. It is to-night in Donkey Stret, trotting silent with seaweed on its hooves, along the cockled cobbles, past curtained fernpot, text and trinket, harmonium, holy dresser, watercoulers done by hand, china dog and rosy tin teacaddy.** It is night neddying among the snuggeries of babies.
By now I was at the theater and tracked Laurie down just to tell her that "Oh, my God, I love this play. I'm on page 2 and I love it." "I know!"

During Andy & Andrea's scene, I curled up with in the back of the room, whispering the words like some kind of postulant with her breviary, stoppping only to poke at Doug and point out the amazingness (which he already knew) of bits like --
Mrs Rose Cottage's eldest, Mae, peals off her pink-and-white skin in a furnace in a tower in a cave in a waterfall in a wood and waits there raw as an onion for Mister Right to leap up the burning tall hollow splashes of leaves like a brilliantined trout.
Why he didn't just swat me away remains a mystery.

As I am reading his copy, I get to see all of his edits, directions, and the occasional thought which is the best part of borrowing someone else's script. Mind you, some of his edits make me sad; for good and sufficient reason, for instance, "sloeblack" is gone from the first paragraph. (Would you like to know the good and sufficient reasons? Ask Doug. It is not for me to reproduce them here because what happens in his reheasal hall, etc.) So no "sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack," alas. I may have to just start saying that randomly to myself to replace in the multiverse the number of times that phrase was not said in its entirety in his production. As always, the multiverse can thank me later.

Another nice thing about borrowing someone else's copy is that - unless that person is all German about her script's and book's spinal integrity the way I am - working copies of scripts tend to lie flat on the desk as one is typing out particularly good bits into one's blog.

He pointed out a few characters that he thought I'd play well. I am immensely flattered.

I'm on page 32 right now. There are only 95 pages, alas. I will probably re-read it before I return it. Maybe more than once.

*David is the only other person who refers to my "library card" in casual conversation about borrowed books.

** The next time that I need a screenname for something, I'm thinking that rosytinteacaddy is the way to go, except that a band in New Zealand thought of it first.


dgorsline said...

I think what we need is a Goodreads just for scripts.

tommyspoon said...

I was lucky to do this in grad school. I love his poetry!

Anonymous said...

I second David's motion. Some stuff is just better read aloud. Sarah and I do a reading of "Child's Christmas in Wales" every Christmas that is extremely vocal and incredibly active. And now I get your FB reference.